Oil of clove

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Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) essential oil in clear glass vial

Oil of clove, also known as clove oil, is an essential oil extracted from the clove plant, Syzygium aromaticum.[1] Clove oil is commonly used in aromatherapy and for flavoring food and some medicines.[2] Madagascar and Indonesia are the main producers of clove oil.[3]

Some countries, such as the UK, acknowledge its use for temporary relief of toothache,[4] although there is insufficient medical evidence to support its use as an analgesic.[1][2]

Types and phytochemicals[edit]

There are three types of clove oil:[3]

  • Bud oil is derived from the flower-buds of S. aromaticum. It consists of 60–90% eugenol, eugenol acetate, caryophyllene and other minor constituents.
  • Leaf oil is derived from the leaves of S. aromaticum. It consists of 70–82% eugenol, and some amounts of beta Caryophyllene and alpha Humulene.
  • Stem oil is derived from the twigs of S. aromaticum. It consists of 85–92% eugenol, with other minor constituents. Stem oil is closer in olfactive and flavor profile to bud oil.

Distilled clove oil from buds contains mixed phytochemicals, including as main constituents phenylpropanoids (primarily eugenol), carvacrol, thymol, and cinnamaldehyde, with smaller quantities of polyphenols, carbohydrates, lipids, oleanolic acid, and rhamnetin.[1]

Human health[edit]


Clove oil is toxic in anything other than small therapeutic doses, and several cases of acute liver and kidney damage have been reported, principally in children.[5]


Particularly in South Korea and India, eugenol, a phytochemical extracted from clove oil, is used to relieve toothache.[6] Applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth or tooth socket remaining after extraction, eugenol or clove oil may relieve toothache temporarily.[6] In the United States, the FDA considers eugenol ineffective for treating dental pain, and has downgraded clove oil as an analgesic due to insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness.[2]

Other uses[edit]

Eugenol is a reliable source for producing natural vanillin (by the US definition). It is a versatile molecule, which can be converted to vanillin with a few simple steps of conversion through the use of naturally available phytochemicals.

Clove oil is commonly used to anesthetize or euthanize laboratory or pet fish.[7][8]

Clove oil is a component of choji oil (Japanese: 丁子油), which was traditionally used for the maintenance of Japanese swords.[9][10]


In Germany, Commission E permits the sale and administration of clove oil as a medicinal herb.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Clove". Drugs.com. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Clove". MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020. Clove oil and eugenol, one of the chemicals it contains, have long been used topically for toothache, but the FDA has reclassified eugenol, downgrading its effectiveness rating. The FDA now believes there isn't enough evidence to rate eugenol as effective for toothache pain.
  3. ^ a b Lawless, J. (1995). "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism". The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils. ISBN 978-1-85230-661-8.
  4. ^ "Clove Oil BP". medicines.org.uk. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  5. ^ "Eugenol (Clove Oil)". LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 28 October 2019. PMID 31869191.
  6. ^ a b Chung G, Oh SB (2013). "Eugenol as Local Anesthetic". Natural Products. Springer-Verlag Berlin; In: Natural Products - Phytochemistry, Botany and Metabolism of Alkaloids, Phenolics and Terpenes; Part XIV. pp. 4001–4015. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-22144-6_171. ISBN 978-3-642-22144-6.
  7. ^ Gary Kent Ostrander (2000). The Laboratory Fish. Elsevier. pp. 508–. ISBN 978-0-12-529650-2.
  8. ^ Gary West; Darryl Heard; Nigel Caulkett (21 July 2014). Zoo Animal and Wildlife Immobilization and Anesthesia. Wiley. pp. 249–. ISBN 978-1-118-79286-5.
  9. ^ Nagayama, Kōkan (1997). The Connoisseur's Book of Japanese Swords. Kodansha International. ISBN 978-4-7700-2071-0.
  10. ^ "Glossary". Samurai Museum. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  11. ^ Rister, R.; Klein, S.; Riggins, C. (1998-08-15). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines (1st ed.). American Botanical Council. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-9655555-0-0.